The utterly irreplaceable role of the midwife is to provide much needed care, support and guidance for pregnant women and their children, both prior to and immediately after birth. Bearing a great deal of responsibility, they are medical professionals with an extensive education and cast-iron interpersonal skills.
As you can imagine, this is a professional field which deals with an extremely delicate issue and therefore requires a very particular character. The personal qualities any person (yes, both men and women can work as midwifes) wishing to become a midwife should possess include:
- Outstanding communication and ‘people’ skills
- Patience, subtlety and tact
- A trusting and confident nature
- Sensitivity to the needs and requirements of patients from all cultures and ethnicities
- An ability to deal with pressure and stress
- Vast physical and mental stamina
- Strong teamwork skills
- Initiative when working alone
Details of the Work
In the run up to a woman giving birth, there are a lot of issues that must be taken into consideration. Generally speaking, the midwife will be responsible for, or at least involved in the making of vital decisions with regards to the big event.
Duties of the modern midwife prior to the labour stage include:
- Providing advice and guidance to pregnant women with regards to nutrition etc.
- Talking through the various options a woman has for her child’s birth (in hospital, at home, natural, pain-relief assisted)
- Carrying out regular checks into the health of both mother and child
- Running antenatal and parenting classes
During labour, a midwife will:
- Check to see how labour is progressing
- Monitor the child at all times
- Provide pain relief and advise mother on handling the process
- Keep physicians updated on status of mother and child, call them in if they’re needed
- Deliver the baby
Following on from the birth itself, a midwife’s work does not stop right away. More times than not, they will remain a constant with the family for a week or two, providing advice on everything from feeding to bathing the new-born.
What Qualifications does a Midwife need?
Unsurprisingly, an individual wishing to practice professionally as midwife must first attain a) a degree in the subject, and b) registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). As is standard with undergraduate degrees, the minimum total tenure of study required prior to graduation is three years- over the course of which a student will learn the ins and outs of the role as well as an abundance of medical care skills.
Degree courses require at least five GCSEs (A-C grade) as well as two or three A levels, at least one of which must be in a scientific or health-related subject. Alternatively, if a prospective midwife is already a registered nurse- they may take a shortened 18 month programme in order to qualify.
The NHS is known for its gainful remuneration of vital medical professionals. Midwifes enjoy starting salaries in excess of £20,000 for the most part- though considering the vastly important role they play within society, not to mention the intensive commitment their work requires of them, many are drawn towards the higher rates offered by private sector healthcare. Guide rates paid to midwifes by the NHS are as follows:
Experienced Midwives/ Team Managers
£30,000 - £40,000
Up to £67,000
All qualified midwifes are required to renew their registration with the NMC every three years. In order to do so, they must meet the following requirements during each term:
- Work a minimum of 450 hours
- Show a clear development of person knowledge and professional competence
- Complete a minimum of 35 hours professional study
- Keep records of professional development
Providing midwifes keep up with the requirements set out for them by the NMC, the scope for their professional progression runs high. With experience comes responsibility, and with more responsibility come a sturdier professional reputation- and the potential for managerial and even consultancy positions.